You probably already understand the importance of keeping tabs on your credit history. After all, this is what lenders, employers and landlords use to determine your "worthiness" when it comes to getting a loan, job or place to live. Additionally, checking your credit report is a good idea when it comes to reducing damage done by identity thieves. When you check your credit report regularly, you can head off fraudulent accounts and begin putting your credit history back in order much sooner. But paying upward of $25 for a credit report can be disheartening. Here´s how to get your credit report for free – without having to sign up for a credit monitoring service.
The three credit bureaus team up to offer free credit reports
Thanks to a relatively recent effort (it took full effect in fall of 2005), you can look at your credit report for free once a year from each of the three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax). They have even developed a jointly maintained site just for that purpose. So, once a year you can log on and check your credit history to make sure that you are in good shape. But what if you would like to check your credit report more often? It isn´t as if identity thieves are going to wait until just before your annual check up to commit identity fraud. Luckily, you can use the system to get three credit reports a year – one every four months.
Don´t get all your credit reports at once
The agreement is clear: you can get one free credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus. That means that you get three free credit reports. Many people just check them all at once. Or worse, they don´t realize that you get one report from each of the three credit bureaus, not just one report a year. Instead of checking all three reports at once, make a schedule of it. Check one of your reports every four months. That way you can more closely monitor your credit report without having to pay a dime.
Things to remember
Make sure that you keep careful track of which credit bureau you have got your credit report from. A second credit report from the same bureau within a year will result in charges. Also, you should note that your credit score is not included in your credit report. You may have to pay to receive that. Luckily, though, it usually costs no more than five to eight dollars. And, of course, you should remember that although the bureaus have most of the same information, you credit report may vary slightly from bureau to bureau. While the big things will probably all be there, checking only one at a time is no guarantee that you will catch everything
Also, whenever you are denied credit for any reason, you are entitled to a free credit report from the bureau at which your credit was checked. Take advantage of this opportunity to check your credit report for any irregularities that might have resulted in your credit refusal.